Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Irwindale Speedway


It’s Saturday Night and yeah! I could sip cocktails at the snooty Burgundy Room just like everyone else, but I couldn’t help hearing the sexy siren wail to go where the burning rubber and stinky motor oil hits the asphalt…the speedway!

Irwindale has a pretty iffy reputation, let’s be honest, it’s just okay and isn’t as awesome as it could be. The track seems small and the concession stand blows and motocross at Angel Stadium pulls in hotter chicks and this mascot called Lug Nut looks like a lame cartoon bastard whose ass oughtta get kicked because during the best parts of the race he struts around the bleachers tossing ugly raceway t-shirts while you’re trying to focus on the race…but there’s still some entertainment value here.

In the Men’s Room there was the Vomiting Guy, busting out a proud Viking warrior yell before blasting out chunks. Every ten seconds he ripped out another Battle Cry before he yakked. All of us guys laughed quite heartily at this man’s digestive distress. It’s tough peeing a straight line while you’re laughing. Bless you, Vomiting Guy.

There was Air Guitar Man, an aging fat mullet no-neck who made Pops Tuttle from American Chopper look like Liz Hurley. Whilst the PA was playing Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll” Air Guitar Man was fingering F-chords on an imaginary guitar neck on his left whilst strumming an invisible Fender hard pick with the right. He had his eyes shut tight, banged his head spasmodically to the beat and grimaced like some asshole from Blue Oyster Cult.

When I wasn’t staring at the aging hipsters with their gray manicured beards trying to act cool I watched the King Taco Super Trucks, hopped up pickup trucks popping gears like the white trash chariots that they were. But there's more: Super Stocks ripping your ears out and chuffing smoke all over the place, and USAC Midget cars, little nubbin’ suppository racers that spun out of control every ten seconds (Lame! What’s the point?). I enjoyed watching the Flag Man change flags and give finger signals to the racers like a maestro conducting his orchestra.

I’ll probably go back to Irwindale on Demolition Derby Night but Air Guitar Man has to be there. There’s nothing more fun than watching a car wreck on the track and in the stands.

(Irwindale Speedway – 13300 Live Oak Drive, Baldwin Park, CA/(626) 358-1100)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"My Car Is My Lover" (BBC America)


The greatest show on television is the weekly BBC America documentaries with episodes like “England’s Ugliest Teeth” or “Too Fat To Toddle”, showcasing morbidly obese children under four years of age. But the pinnacle of gross sensationalism aired a few weeks ago in an episode called, “My Car Is My Lover”. Folks, I think we hit the motherlode of sleaze. Forget about NamBLA, step aside for the new sexual perversion, mechaphilia. We’re talking guys sticking it where the gas pump don’t shine, that’s right, dudes gettin’ wet, hard and sloppy over automobiles. It’s all about the Volvos, not vulvas.

The show documents the cross-country odyssey of two car lovin’ hepcats, one: a fiftysomething ghoul from Washington State named Edward who writes love songs to his VW Bug named “Vanilla”. One tune in particular is called “For My Love Bug”, where he lustfully croons about the sexy curves on her fender and hood and goes something like:

VW Beetle of 74
Chrome and metal that I adore
Your fuel-injected beauty is all I need
I leave my loving seed


Pamela Anderson would be no match to this old flivver in his household.

Then there’s the younger dude from Missouri named Jordan who works at Wal-Mart in the dairy section stocking milk all day and writing death metal tunes on his ProTools all night. He’s in love with his VW Bug named “Ingo” but has another lover on the side, a black Knightrider-type auto called “Todd”. Not only is he a two-timer but that also makes him bisexual!

For the next hour we see Edward wiping his pubic hairs off “Vanilla” the morning after a session with her. He hits the happy highway soon after, occasionally distracted by a Porsche Targa on the freeway the way a regular guy gets distracted by a chick with a killer rack or sexy legs: “Holy cow, check out those tailpipes! They represent the car’s anus. You just feel like exploding with love, greasing it up, and letting yourself go!”

And “exploding with love” he does, raping the film crew’s car while they’re not looking, leaving puddles of his spunky man-juice right by the left fender. The film crew thoughtfully filmed the residue for our morbid entertainment. Cheers, lads!

A little red Pinto gets a similar appraisal. “Ohh! Rumble, rumble, honey. I’d lick it. I’d come all over her.” Meanwhile, Jordan confesses that girls don’t do it for him like a primed Chevy, and pulls over quickly to the curb in the middle of New Mexico to call in sick at his job at Wal-Mart in Missouri. “Uh, I won’t be back for a couple of weeks. Can we talk about my coming back to work when I return?” Big surprise: his boss hung up on him.

After interminable shots of the boys racing down the American desert highways to weepy Dire Straits guitar ("Sultans of Swing"), Edward and Jordan finally meet at a Motel 6 in Hollywood and spend more time drooling over each other’s cars than they do bonding and yukking it up. After Jordan goes to bed an ultraviolet Night Vision camera pointed at the parking lot catches Edward stealthily sneaking out and fucking “Todd”.

The climax of the show (in more ways than one) is a swap meet in Pomona, where scores of beautiful vintage cars get shown off. This is the equivalent to the Foxy Lady strip club for these boys. These guys put the “stud” in Studebaker. Edward trots around the car lot with a tent in his pants fondling tail fins, and sneaks kisses and licks moaning ecstatically while low-riders walk by laughing at him.

Meanwhile Jordan verbally letches over an old Ford, smacking his lips like a frat boy at a bachelor party, reporting that “A lot of these cars I would rape like a wild animal. I would take this car home and rape it silly. Boy, when I get home, me and Ingo are going to make some sweet, sweet lovin’.” Jordan, you beast! With all the talk of car rape floating around I don’t know whether to call Gloria Allred or Henry Ford.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When The Devil Rides


Great news, Angelenos. On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day all MTA bus rides are absolutely free, free, free! There’s only one catch:

The bus drivers are drunk as fuck and they don’t care.

Before I raised enough scratch to buy a car I had to take the bus on Christmas Day. After waiting an eternity for the bus to show up, I ascended the steps to be stared down by the driver, who silently mouthed “fuck you” at me. I may not have heard it, but I sure as Sam smelled it: the fumes rushed at me like a Johnny Walker fart cloud punching me in the face. The driver did this to just about everyone who boarded.

And how about the driving? Narrowly side-swiping parked cars, running two red lights and braking on a dime to avoid the third raced light sending us flying out of our seats! The ABM (Angry Black Man) in the back yelled, “Yo! Quit bullshittin’ aroun’ man!”
The bus driver glared in his rear view mirror at this remark. In defiance the ABM lit a Kool cigarette.
The driver turned around and shouted, “There will be no smoking in the coach!” (English translation: “If I can’t smoke, you can’t.”)

All this would be screamingly funny if it was out of a Bukowski novel, America’s most lovably zany alcoholic, but no, when the devil rides and you’re in the “coach”: Run, Motherfucker, Run.

New Year’s Day was almost as bad: our driver was pissed he had to work on New Year’s and dealt with it by snubbing the riders.

“Sir, how many stops until Sherbourne?”
Silence from the driver.
“Uh, sir?”
Dead silence.
“Sir, could you tell me-“
“SHERBOURNE, NEXT STOP, COMING UP!” he finally yelled.

After tiring of the silent treatment he relied on sarcasm.
“Yo, driver. Sunset Boulevard cross Fairfax?”
“Well, Sunset Boulevard crosses a lot of streets. I suppose it crosses Fairfax?”
“SHEE-IT!”

I think you know where I’m going with this. I don’t know of any other service industry that shows more contempt to their customers on the holidays as the Bus Co. To which I offer this: the next time these guys go on strike, pull up to the picket line, put your car in PARK, and rev your engine up, over and over, and then step on it. Let the smoke choke them and the revving noise blast out their protests. They won’t mind, they’ll be dead drunk.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Clothes Make The Manchild


Men, dudes and boys of all ages: If you don’t want to dress like you’re going to a rap concert and have no interest in looking like one of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and those other assholes), then read on. The stores listed below are clich├ęd but if you dig hard enough you’ll find something original and snappy looking.

H & M (8580 W. Sunset Blvd) = H&M is sort of the IKEA of clothes. Just like IKEA sells fancy, expensive-looking furniture at rock bottom prices H&M sells tres chic, expensive looking boutique garments at low prices, too. I liked the men’s department a lot. I bought a sexy purple hoodie that unbuttons all the way down my chest. I’ll be wearing this until Santa Claus packs up his Cadillac for his one-nite tour. The only beef I have with H&M is the sizing of items. There were a few things I tried on that seemed pretty irregular, so sizes never seemed terribly consistent. The service was friendly without being overbearing or snooty.

John Varvatos (8800 Melrose Ave) = John Varvatos is one of the best men’s designers working today, his designs are smart, sophisticated and imaginative. When I walk by his boutique window I usually stop and check out his amazing suits, shirts, shoes and bags. I think its’ great that men finally have a designer that doesn’t soak you into hyper macho (Ralph) or hip-hop overload (Tommy). Enough with that! On the minus side, of course, is that the clothes in his store are so insanely expensive that it’s more of a “museum”. If it’s any consolation, here’s a tip: Varvatos suits occasionally go on sale at Macy’s (over 30% off!), so so do your browsing at Varvatos and your spending at Macy’s. For once the middle man has made himself useful.

Urban Oufitters (7650 Melrose Ave) = Urban Outfitters is a funny place. Three reasons why:
1.They sell books here! How come Borders doesn’t sell hoodies? Oh yeah, they’re a book store! Duh!
2.The majority of the guys that come here look as lost and bored as they do at a Victoria’s Secret. Hint: maybe the clothes should be fitted for men’s bodies, not emo-stick bods.
3.In spite of it all I loved their socks, and any store that sells cool socks is nutty. “Nutty Outfitters”…I dig the name. Lose the books, suckers.

Al Weiss Men’s Clothing (1006 Wall St) = Located in the heart of the Garment District, this establishment has friendly staff that remember you (and your size) three years after your last purchase, the cheapest place to get a suit anywhere (prices as low as $175), and the selection is excellent. I love this place!

Lucky Brand Jeans (189 The Grove Drive) = Take a look around and you’ll notice LA’s gotten pretty lucky. If I want to go bowling I’ll go to LUCKY STRIKE, if I wanna get drunk I’ll go to LUCKY BALDWIN’S, if I want to jam a burger in my face I’ll go to LUCKY DEVILS, etc. If LA’s so damn “lucky”, why is everybody so angry? Maybe it’s because all these “lucky” places are so damn expensive! Shit! There’s a depression goin’ on, all you “lucky” fucks. Lucky Brand Jeans fit like a glove and are extra comfortable. They make me look like I’m gonna get, you know, !LUCKY! tonight and every night. Love the pants, hate the prices. Keep yr. peepers open for sales. If you really wanna get ***LUCKY***!!!

Macy’s Mens Store (8500 Beverly Blvd) = You can’t beat Macy’s Mens Store for killer guywear. There’s always a sale on Calvin, Ralph and Tommy, the holy guywear trinity. Macy’s house designer Alfani is also excellent, their shirts and ties rock the world. You won’t find a larger or swankier clearance rack than the one here, and there’s none of that Ross Irregular crap either. Make sure you check out the enormous cologne counters there, too. The selection can spank Sephora’s ass around the block. After you buy up all the cool guywear go to the top to the kitchen section. Great plate and bowl combo sets at prices that go to the mat with Bed, Bath and Beyond and win. Macy’s makes Beverly Center halfway bearable, and that’s something to talk about.

Lords (8783 Beverly Blvd) = One of the cardinal rules of clothes designing is when you enter another designer’s showroom to look at their work you never tell them that you also design clothes, or they’ll freak out. (They’ll think you’re spying, Shhh.) So we went to the amazing Lords showroom like Uncle Jed and Granny “weeelllllll-doggying” everything. And we weren’t acting. There was some serious fashion swinging around here:
1.Men’s dress suits in glittered material with bell sleeves.
2.Military style jackets with bondage straps and tailored sewn-in pleated vests.
3.Gorgeous waxed leather trousers with pleated strips.
4.Red leather hoodies, and much more!
For the girls:
1.The most elegant quilted ski-coat, complete with sewn-in scarf and fashion fishtail at the bottom.
2.Glittered handbags with electronic videogames sewn in.
3.Rabbit fur capes dyed pale pink.
There was a very stylie coffee bar towards the front with fattening bon-bons for people who can’t fit into the skinny clothes. The sales staff will coerce you into modeling their fashions and walk the runway in their store, so make sure you have your alpha panties on.
P.S. Everything in there is over $1000, so care bear punks stay home.

Burberry (Cabazon Outlet) = One second you're pointing at the Burberry ad in GQ Magazine, chortling over the emo fops with their messy long hair (like me) and their severely thin suits, and the next you're at the Cabazon outlet - "just passing by", as it says in the Monopoly board game - checking out their foppishly thin suits. My salesman Alistair was a dapper old Irish/Scottish/Welsh gent and hooked me up most brilliantly, setting me up with not one, but two, severely Burberrian suits: a gorgeously gunmetal grey suit and a devilishly delish pinstripe number. He warned, "The trousers are cut very thin, you know". I tried them on and it was a perfect fit, making old Alistair's eyes gleam brilliantly. As he rung my purchase up he spoke about Coachella, Paul McCartney, and Leonard Cohen, aging hipsters don't die - they sell sharp freakbeat outfits. The deal was amazing - two suits cut down to 50% and a $1,100 sale slashed to $500. Imagine running around the desert with two beautiful English suits designed to fit my severe, mod body. What a wonderful world!

American Apparel (802 N. San Vicente Blvd) = One of the most prominent sights in West Hollywood is the tiny Pandora’s Box building that is American Apparel on SM & San Vicente Boulevard. And what a Pandora’s Box it is: if more than ten people show up they’d have to call the Fire Marshall. It’s a cute, charming little store that has more minuses than plusses. On the plus side the friendly emo boys who work there actually play some good jams, good enough to almost make me ask them what tunes they were busting, but I woulda felt silly. On the minus side the men’s underwear looked just like JC Penney’s y-front patterns. File under “underwhelming”. If there were nice sweaters or tops they didn’t run anywhere near under $60, absurd given you could get equally or better stuff from H&M or Urban O for way less. On the plus side their socks were awesome so I didn’t walk out empty handed. I had to keep those emo boys gainfully employed so I bought two pairs of foxy sox.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nightmerica


It was 1985, yeah, we were right in the middle of the Eighties and living in America was everything we ran away from, colonial England. America finally built a class system and you were either in the upper classes with your nose in the air or the lower classes with a cocky peasant chip on your shoulder. “Vanity Fair” was the big magazine of the day, published by creepy gay Republicans and surprise, snobby Englishmen. Every issue canonized fascists like Imelda Marcos, Moammar Kadaffi, and Ron & Nancy Reagan. Yuppies were in style with their materialism and designer mania and it was cool to mock hippies, peace, love and ecology.

The Eighties were lonely and I spent many Sundays alone on the beach, tanning so I would feel sunny even though my disposition was gloomy. When I got to a good spot on the beach I pulled my jeans and t-shirt off and lay in the sand, my head resting against a bed of sand. I closed my eyes with my cool black hair falling in my face, my eyelids red and restful inside.

And the kids weren’t alright: rock music was absolute garbage in the Eighties, either New Wave nerds with their bleeping keyboards whining about Big Brother and paranoia, or Punk Rock jocks screaming their fat thick necks about Big Brother and paranoia. I wasn’t nerdy enough for New Wave and not caveman enough for Punk Rock. Goth was okay but I didn’t like drugs or fags called Damien with their clove cigarettes.

I bumped around from one temp assignment to another wondering if I had a future at all. All week long I’d check into one antiseptic firm after another in downtown LA: Atlantic Richfield, proofreading contracts, Thomas Cook travelers checks (working in their vault), Transamerica Corporation, yawn. I’d get my weekly check every Thursday and spend it on bad movies, bad records, and even worse nightclubs where I’d run into musicians I used to play with who got signed to the majors and would shamelessly snub me. It wasn’t a wonderful life.

The sky was cloudy and the sun was fighting its way through to shine down on me. The sea breeze was light and spicy. I could hear the ocean waves crashing like thunder and booming like the hooves of a thousand horses racing towards me.

The US Government wanted us to believe that they were the greatest society in the world and it was going to be a tough sell, given that our President cut off funding for programs to aid the elderly, shutting down countless institutions for the insane, and turning his back on AIDS research. And he had the blessing of the Revs. Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Jim Bakker. With all this apathy and arrogance I kept my fingers crossed and wished for a terrible calamity to befall the United States for their selfishness and xenophobia. Soon enough it would happen in New Orleans, in New York, even in smug Los Angeles. But not before I would suffer first, spending several years homeless and living on the streets and in jails. The past was very dark and the future had a long way to go before it would be bright again.

The sun finally broke through the clouds and its warmth engulfed me. I could hear the sea gulls shrieking in the sky as they flew in circles above me and around the empty beach.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Flop


There’s nothing more boring than watching a documentary about a wildly popular rock band patting each other’s balls, pretending to be humble and thrilling their billions of sheep-like fans. The most recent offenders have been Wilco (dull), The Pixies (smug), Flaming Lips (not funny), and Radiohead (overrated). Actually, the best films I’ve seen in recent memory have been documentaries about the losers of rock ‘n roll. These films are infused with more drama than a million Nicole Kidman blockbusters, and damn if they have anything to be proud about. Here’s my favorite rock flop flicks:

1. New York Doll – Arthur Kane, bassist of the New York Dolls, is more heroic as a born-again Mormon clerk at the West LA temple than he ever was in his previous incarnation as skanky glam rocker. Waiting for the Number 4 bus on Santa Monica Blvd, Arthur perpetually pines for one last New York Dolls reunion. The opportunity finally arrives, courtesy of Morrisey (!) and Arthur demonstrates more wisdom than his other bandmates, appearing almost saint-like with his humility, a far cry from the old Mercer Arts Center days. Shortly after the reunion show Kane passed away, his wish finally granted by the powers that be. This one had a happy ending.

2. Derailroaded – Wild Man Fischer became the stuff of legend in the Psychedelic Sixties standing in front of the Whiskey A Go-Go selling his songs for a dime. Frank Zappa made the dubious decision to record a full-length album of his singing, his songs sounding very much like bad nursery rhymes with banal lyrics. His delivery, of course, is the creep factor, all ex-mental institution manic with shrieks that sound like a cat getting gutted. All through the film we hear testimonies from family members and musical colleagues about being attacked or threatened by Wild Man. Even Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo weighs in on the genius of Wild Man Fischer. We’re not convinced.

3. Won’t Anybody Listen? – Midwest transplants NC-17 attempt to conquer Hollywood with their dazzling tunes. We see them wowing crowds at The Coconut Teaszer where bands are herded like so much cattle (20 Bands a Nite for Only Five Dollars!), and that’s the focus of the film: while the band grouses about how the record industry won’t recognize them for being the true geniuses that they are, their complaints are intercut with A&R executives (including ex-Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham! So much for socialism!) explaining how hard it is for bands to score a record deal, and even when they do, they’re so deep in debt they won’t turn a profit for another six years. When we see NC-17 finally perform we hear music so directionless it’s easy to see why they’ve been passed up by the major labels. I guess being “Star Search” finalists added up to zilch!

4. Dig! – The “Citizen Kane” of rock flop flicks, where we see the Brian Jonestown Massacre crush under the weight of their incorrigibly annoying leader, Anton Newcombe, who keeps drooling about a “revolution” his band is leading, but the only revolution to be seen in the film is the band mutinying against him resulting in interminable punch-ups every five minutes like sex in a porn film. When you think it couldn’t get any more annoying, you’ll see Courtney Taylor of The Dandy Warhols contrive a phony WWF-type rivalry with the BJ Massacre. The only person he truly pisses-off is fashion photographer David LaChapelle, who’s ten times the artist The Dandy Warhols will ever be. The BJ Massacre is still together and kicking each other’s balls on stage. Take a tip from me: their shows aren’t first-date material unless your date’s a dominatrix.

5. You’re Gonna Miss Me – Roky Erickson, leader of the 13th Floor Elevators, wrote some great songs: Fire Engine, You’re Gonna Miss Me, Two-Headed Dog, etc. His documentary focuses on the custody battle between his mother Evelyn and his brother. His mother’s eccentric in a “Grey Gardens” way, gluing family pictures to her wall like a scrapbook, and his brothers allude to possibly being molested by their stoic father. After all is said and done Roky still has the ability to move you with his amazing singing, whether it’s Buddy Holly’s “Starry Eyes” or his “Goodbye Sweet Dreams”. SPOILER: His brother Sumner gets custody in the end, but Roky of course returns to Mama and the safe womb of his bedroom watching Powerpuff Girls cartoons.

Other documentaries that didn’t zing my tweeter as much was the Townes Van Zandt doc (okay, he was a manic depressive, so what?), the Nick Drake movie, where his sister confesses to putting him down all the time, wonder where the depression came from?, and that Rodney Bingenheimer nightmare movie. After I saw that one I yelled at my wife for hours!

But I’m just nursing sour grapes, I’ll confess. I want my own rock flop flick, where I’m the star of my own movie where people see me going to work every day and not rocking out at The Hollywood Palladium and The Roxy anymore, and all my ex-bandmates talking about what a fucking prick I am. I want to be the coolest music failure in the history of rock cinema. That would be hotter than a million Oscars.